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Laura Moffatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if her Department will take steps to encourage the entry of (a) women and (b) people from minority ethnic groups into academic medicine. 
Mr. Byrne: Universities are expanding the number of opportunities for training in academic medicine. Entry to such training programmes is through fair and open competition in compliance with employment and European law.
Ms Rosie Winterton: There are four hospitals in Hertfordshire which provide acute care. They are Hemel Hempstead Hospital, Watford General Hospital, the Lister Hospital, Stevenage and Queen Elizabeth II in Welwyn Garden City.
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what categories of patient are not able to gain access to scanning services provided in mobile units provided by Alliance Medical; and if she will make a statement. 
The mobile scanning service provided by Alliance Medical uses scanners that are the same size as fixed units and is fully accessible, with, for example, lift access for patients who are unable to use the steps.
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Mr. Byrne: Taking Healthcare to the Patient: Transforming NHS Ambulance Services" set out how the range and quality of services provided to patients by ambulance services could and should be improved. The report recommended fewer, larger trusts so that they would have the capacity to deliver the changes required.
We expect efficiencies to be realised in management and administrative positions, headquarters and estates, and better use of resources, but it will be for the new trusts to calculate the level of efficiency savings to be made to offset transitional costs and to re-invest in local services for improving patient care.
The size of these costs cannot be accurately estimated until public consultation has concluded, the number and boundaries of the new trusts are known, and key decisions have been taken by the new trusts on operational management arrangements and associated staffing structures. The new trusts, if established, will be expected to minimise transitional costs, and actively pursue future efficiencies which will offset any transitional costs.
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Mr. Byrne: This is a matter for the chair of the Barnsley district general hospital national health service foundation trust. I have written to Gordon Firth informing him of my hon. Friend's inquiry. He will reply shortly and a letter will be placed in the Library.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations her Department has made to the European Commission on removing the EU requirement to remove the vertebral column from cattle over 24 months in connection with the lifting of the export ban on beef over 30 months of age; and what assessment she has made of the impact that an extended beef-on-the-bone ban would have on (a) small beef producers and (b) butchers' shops concentrating on the production of high quality local food. 
Caroline Flint [holding answer 31 October 2005]: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) lobbied and argued strongly for a threshold of 30 months, as currently applies in the United Kingdom. The FSA had commissioned an independent risk assessment which concluded that removal of vertebral column at 12 months rather than 30 months would make a negligible difference in diminishing the bovine spongiform encephalopathy risk in the UK. This report was passed to the European Commission as evidence that it would be disproportionate to require removal at 24 months and to other member states as part of the lobbying process. There was insufficient support from other member states for a European Union threshold of 30 months and one of 24 months was adopted.
Officials in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are currently leading a public consultation on lifting the export ban and harmonising specified risk material controls with those in other member states. A full assessment of the impact of requiring removal of vertebral column from cattle aged 24 to 30 months at slaughter will be completed at the end of the consultation, based on responses received and preliminary economic assessment work currently under way.
Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make it a requirement for general practitioners to ensure that the body mass index of each patient is regularly recorded as part of the new GP contract. 
NHS Employers, on behalf of United Kingdom health Ministers, are responsible for reviewing the general medical service contract with the British Medical Association's general practitioners committee. Negotiators have confirmed some changes are likely to be made to the quality and outcomes framework from April 2006.
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Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cases involving humans becoming infected with the (a) brucella melitensis virus and (b) brucella suis virus have been reported to her Department in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. 
|Brucella melitensis(13)||Brucella species(14)|
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department has taken to assess the level of infection by brucella viruses within the UK population; and if she will make a statement. 
A survey of farm workers in England was carried out between 1991 and 1996. A total of 404 farm workers were tested for brucellosis. Three, or 0.7 per cent. of them, all dairy farmers, had antibodies in their blood on enrolment into the study that indicated past infection with Brucella species 1 . All are likely to have acquired infection when the disease was more prevalent in cattle. All of them drank unpasteurised milk on their farms. No new infections were observed during the study.
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department has taken to ensure that testing for suspected cases of brucellosis can be carried out; and if she will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: Doctors treating a febrile patient who lives in an overseas area or who has travelled to a country where brucellosis is endemic will be aware of the possibility of infection with brucella.
The brucella reference unit (BRU), which is based at University Hospital Aintree 1 , carries out laboratory tests to diagnose suspected cases of brucellosis. The BRU carries out tests that detect the presence of antibodies in serumthese tests can be used to confirm current or past infection, but cannot be used to determine the species that caused the infection.
The statutory and exotic bacteria department of the Veterinary Laboratories Agency 2 carries out tests in which the organism is grown from samples of blood or and or bone marrow. These tests can determine which species of brucella is causing the infection. The Department also carries out biotyping of brucella strains, which helps to identify the possible source(s) of infection. This service is funded by the Health Protection Agency.
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